Editing tips

Talking captions

May 17, 2004
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A thread at the Visual Editors board muses on the best way to write a photo caption (I know, some of you call them cutlines). I liked this bit of advice. Back in photo-j school I was taught a very simple but effective formula for writing cutlines. Explain the 5 W’s – when, where,...

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For all you biz/financial editors

May 5, 2004
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Occurs to me there might be a story in the profusion of blogs about the stock market. I’m a bit of a dabbler, as you might’ve noticed after my reams of verbiage about the Google IPO. Last summer I started reading tradermike.net, the blog of an Atlanta guy who trades stocks for a living...

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Gotta love those lawsuits

May 4, 2004
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Joe Adams, Florida’s numero uno open-records guru, shares the oft-told advice that there’s no telling what you can unearth by poking around in the local courthouse’s civil lawsuit files. For instance: Documents obtained by Ray Parker of the Naples Daily News reveal the Collier County School District once hired a private investigator to spy...

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Leave them to their grief, please

May 3, 2004
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A second-day story in the St. Pete Times opens with a description of a man breaking down because he’s arrived at the place where his 16-year-old daughter died the day before when her SUV swerved out of control, flipped and hit a tree. TAMPA – Kyle Tidwell wanted to see the exact spot where...

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Mixing tenses makes me tense

April 28, 2004
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I stopped by Side Salad‘s employer’s Web site to see if his co-workers provided any blogworthy offenses. Found something on the first try, just like the last time I tried this. Maybe I’m just too picky, but this annoys me: TAMPA – A 59-year-old man threatens his mother and a health-care worker with kitchen...

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When the lede needs a rewrite

April 23, 2004
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Today I thought I’d share some useful line-editing advice for a change. For the heck of it I stopped by Tim Ball’s paper, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, to mine for news nuggets that would provoke my editorial urge. I found one on the first try. The discovery Thursday of a homeless man’s...

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Bottom-up editing

February 11, 2004
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Nicole offers a bit of novel advice: Get in the habit of doing one read on stories backward, starting with the last paragraph, then the second-to-last, etc. This will allow you to focus on the grammar and individual words rather than the story line. It’s usually where I find story holes or facts contradicting...

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How to behave

December 4, 2003
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Phillip Blanchard offers etiquette tips for copy editors. Q. I’m a young copy editor on a desk with experienced hands and sometimes I don’t know how to behave. Do you have any tips? — Anonymous in L.A. A. Sure. We’re overdue for a review of copy-desk etiquette anyhow: * Don’t complain to the slot...

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Keep your editor happy

November 24, 2003
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Media Bistro has a bunch of tips for free-lance writers on avoiding collisions with their editors. Among the suggestions: Most editors are in a position to offer a bit of wiggle room on a deadline as long as you give them one to two weeks’ warning. Whatever you do, don’t surprise them on the...

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Careful what you ‘refuse’

November 23, 2003
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From a story about the tumult in the former Soviet republic of Georgia: For Shevardnadze, the silver-haired 75-year-old president who served as Soviet foreign minister in the waning days of the Soviet Union and has led his troubled country of 5 million since 1992, the day was a steady drumbeat of bad news. Trusted...

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